Tesla is making changes to the top ranks of its legal team after a year plagued by legal issues.
Dane Butswinkas, a 29-year veteran and partner of the Washington D.C. firm Williams & Connolly, has been hired as general counsel, Tesla said in a blog post late Thursday. He will replace outgoing legal chief Todd Maron, who’s held the position since 2013.
"After 30 years as a trial lawyer at Williams & Connolly, I would have never imagined joining a company in-house,” Butswinkas said in a press release. "But Tesla presents a unique and inspiring opportunity. Tesla’s mission is bigger than Tesla – one that is critical to the future of our planet. It’s hard to identify a mission more timely, more essential, or more worth fighting for."
Tesla said it has been working on a transition plan since July that will end in January "to ensure a smooth handover of responsibilities."
July, of course, was one month before Elon Musk's failed bid to take Tesla private at $420 per share. The saga lasted just over two weeks, but left Tesla's legal department with plenty of work, including an investigation and subsequent lawsuit by the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Butswinkas, who was hired to assist with the fallout, will report directly to CEO Elon Musk and will oversee Tesla's legal and government relations teams, the company said. The company was required as part of its settlement with the SEC to bring on "an experiences securities lawyer" to oversee communications (especially tweets) by executives.